The Explosive Growth of African Christianity: Tributes to Pastor Gabriel Diya’s Family

Past and recent church statistics are saying that the continent of Africa now has the highest number of Christians in the world. The center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-conwell University latest statistics puts African Christianity at the highest with a projection of 7 million by the end of 2025 (https://www.gordonconwell.edu/center-for-global-christianity/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2020/01/Status-of-Global-Christianity-2020.pdf) Brierley consultancy also projects that while world Christians will grow by +11% between 2020 and 2030, African Christians will grow +30% (https://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/).  Missiologists, anthropologists, social scientists, mission agencies and church denominations have been asking the question why African Christianity is growing exponentially?

While there are several answers one can reasoned out, one that I want to focus on here is pure faith in our Lord Jesus Christ in times of crisis. Many of us were shocked when we heard the tragic accident and passing away of Pastor Gabriel Diya and his two lovely children Praise- Emmanuel and Comfort in Costa del sol pool on Christmas eve last year. As a friend of Pastor Diya, I  am one of the people priviledged to attend the service of songs and funeral service at New Wine Church in Woolwich on the 3rd and 4th of February respectively. At  a packed service of songs full of church leaders, civic leaders, teachers, family, youth, friends and well wishers, we all heard from Pastor Bunmi Diya (wife of Pastor Gabriel). Perhaps, what was surprising  was the expectation that grief would have taken its toll and the day unbearable for her and the remaining daughter, Favour Diya, but she  and Favour displayed a remarkable faith that demonstrates a confidence in God that is unequal. When she spoke to give what one might call the vote of thanks for the amazing support she  and Favour have received since the  tragic accident, she comforted and encouraged the congregation. The congregation were supposed to give comfort, but rather Pastor Bunmi comforted us with her words. She believed clearly with conviction that although tragic and sad but that Pastor Gabriel with Emmanuel-Praise and Comfort are in heaven and that it was their appointed time. This is an unparalleled faith in time of crisis and the sort that I think is making African Christianity to keep growing. Despite severe hardship, difficulties, sets backs, disappointments, African Christians are resilient in their faith that they will not give up on God just because things are not going well.

Some critics might speculate that may be she did that as a show for the public. I do not think so, because Pastor Agu Irukwu, the national overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) of which Pastor Gabriel is one of their pastors, told the congregation yesterday that when they heard what had happened and went to see Pastor Bunmi and Favour personally, she encouraged and comforted them instead of Pastor Agu comforting them. Pastor Agu described it as a miracle to have gone through such a traumatic ordeal and yet remain faithful to God. In addition, Pastor Bunmi is a woman of integrity and character who has inspired so many of us with her authentic faith. Perhaps, it is this kind of faith in time of crisis that the world can learn from African Christianity.

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